Sociological Explanations Behind Low Academic Performance

Sociological Explanations Behind Low Academic Performance

Nowadays, everyone knows that education is a must and today, people are no longer “wowed” when they hear that someone has a degree or a Ph.D. as these things are now common. But, still, there are many among us that have not been able to possess this treasure called education. And, today sociology will help us to understand the reasons behind low academic performance.

In-School Factors

There is a range of factors found inside educational institutions that can affect students’ academic performance.

Teachers’ attitudes

Teacher, Women, College, Student

According to different studies, teachers at school tend to make judgments of pupils’ abilities based on things like standards of behavior, dress, speech and types of home children come from, which also includes the social class background of the pupils. As most teachers are from middle-class backgrounds, they tend to give more acceptance and attention to middle-class children and less to working-class children.


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Streaming is a sort of system established at the school to separate pupils into different groups based on their assumed ability. However, as it happens most of the time, even if students are of equal ability, teachers have the tendency to think that working-class students are less intelligent only because of their social class backgrounds. This explains why most socially deprived students are found in the lower streams. And as a result, this unfair treatment has discouraged many pupils from learning, which leads to them performing poorly in exams.


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Labeling is when you attribute specific tags to a person. For instance, it can be observed that most working-class children are often labeled as “failures, deviants, low performers, incompetent and bottom-stream material.” It is proved that such predictions can affect students to a great degree and as a result, they end up (most of the time) acting in accordance with the prediction made and the label attached. This process is known as the self-fulfilling prophecy.

Peer Pressure

Students, Classroom, Learn, School

At school, there is a high possibility for students to be influenced negatively by their peers. For instance, once they form and belong to specific groups, many pupils will reject the school culture and adopt a counter-school culture.

Moreover, you will notice how working-class students tend to groups where all the students have the habit of taking unauthorized absences, do not do their homework and refuse to show up during exams. This, therefore, affects their educational performance as they have to follow the norms of the group.

The School Infrastructure

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As per some sociological research, the school’s infrastructure has a profound impact on the education performance of students. For example, due to a lack of proper infrastructure and necessary equipment, like laboratory equipment and books in the library, students are not motivated to study well.

Out-School Factors

Material Explanations:

Books, Stack, Literature, Knowledge

· Lack of proper school materials can affect the educational performance of students. For example, the internet is now a must for all students, but due to their poor background, most working-class students cannot afford such luxury and hence cannot compete for good results compared to other students. Moreover, educational books, sports equipment and calculators cannot be bought.

· Poor housing conditions like overcrowding and too much noise in the house can make it challenging to study at home, especially during exams period.

· The lack of proper hygiene and sanitation in the homes of poor and needy people tends to lead to high levels of sickness, which means more absences and falling behind with studies.

· Parents from poor social class backgrounds are unable to provide their children with daily meals and this leads to illness.

· In order to support their low-income families, most lower-class students take up part-time jobs such as babysitting or shop work. As a result, a conflict is created between competing demands of study and paid work.

Cultural Explanations

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Several sociologists claimed that the culture of parents could highly influence a child’s educational achievement at school. Indeed, compared to middle-class families who have an intellectually stimulating home, the lack of academic qualifications, knowledge of art and literature and lifestyles in low-income families affect the students’ educational performance. In addition, often working-class parents do not have the time to visit their kids’ schools frequently to discuss with teachers their children’s performance.


Girl, English, Dictionary, Read, Reading

Did you know that many students have great difficulty engaging with their teachers in classroom activities as they are not used to the elaborated code, which refers to the language used at school? Instead, as they tend to use more of the restricted code, that is, the informal form of language used with close friends and family members, they are unable to adapt to the school learning curriculum.

When you think about it, it is indeed sad. Despite its importance in the contemporary society, there are many who are deprived of tasting this fruit called education. If education gives you the ability to read and write, then how many are deprived of this ability.